Can pets make or break a showing?

By Kim Shindle | July 18, 2011 | 4 min. read

Dogs may be man’s best friend but they’re not always a buyer’s best friend. And what to do about pets can be a difficult topic to broach with some home sellers.

“When a house is being shown, pets should be out of the home with the owner, in a daycare or with a neighbor,” said Rhona Sutter, president and founder of The Pet Realty Network. “It’s difficult with cats but putting a cat in a cage with a pretty cover over it is a solution and you should let the agent know.”

While the homeowners’ pets may be friendly, it may be overwhelming to the buyers.

Helen Miernicki of Realty World – We Get Results in Ashland said she recently had a showing with two dogs jumping up on her buyers. “They were so big and friendly but they were drooling all over us and the buyer couldn’t wait to leave. I had to go home to change. The house never had a chance with the buyer because of the dogs,” she said.

Sutter said too many pet owners put their pets in the garage, basement or patio with a sign noting that the pet is located in the room. “The problem with that is that it can be distracting during the showing. The buyers will want to see those rooms and no one wants to hear woofing and meowing while they’re looking at a house,” she said.

“I ask the sellers to take their dogs for a walk or crate their cats. If it’s an exotic animal like a snake or iguana, I ask the seller to crate it and let us know what kind of animal it is so we’re not surprised when we walk into the room,” said Raul Azpiazu with Century 21 Jackson Real Estate in Wysox.

Realtor® Sal Mazzocchi with Mazzocchi Realty in Clarion has seen his share of pet problems. “Rattlesnakes, even in a glass-enclosed aquarium, scare everyone, especially when you don’t know they’re there. It’s always good to ask your sellers to take their rattlesnakes for a walk when their house is being shown,” he said.

Sutter said reptiles can be particularly upsetting to potential buyers. “I’m petrified of snakes, so it’s a good thing to cover the cage. It should also be noted in the MLS so agents are aware when they show the house. I know pet owners really love their iguana or python and sometimes don’t understand that they’re off-putting to other people,” she added.

Prepping a house where pets have been is important to attract buyers. Sutter said reminding pet owners to clean the floors, shampoo carpeting and buff out scratches. “Buyers have walked out of homes because of the smell. No buyer wants the smell of a wet Labrador overwhelming the house,” she said. A bottle of Febreze® can help freshen rooms once they’ve been thoroughly cleaned.

And while 62 percent of all homes in the U.S. have pets, Sutter said it’s different when it’s your own pet.  So move the litter box and pet beds out of the wayso potential buyers don’t trip on them.

PAR Treasurer Kim Skumanick said it’s important to remind the owners to tidy up after their pets before a showing. “I ask them to make sure the yard and/or the cat litter box are clean,” the Lewith and Freeman Realtor® said. “And hopefully they haven’t taught Polly to curse like a sailor when she’s caged!”

Sutter agrees. “As clients are walking around the backyard, they’re focusing on the house’s features, not watching where they’re walking.”

A way to appeal to other pet owners is to provide a list of pet amenities located nearby. “List the veterinary office, pet stores, pet walkers and other services to appeal to pet owners. It adds a special touch,” Sutter said.

The Pet Realty Network has recently launched to assist agents and their clients. 

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